I like strong rich colour in my paintings. This does not mean I dislike the delicate soft colours used by other painters, I do, but I’m not comfortable painting delicate pictures. Is this the process which creates a particular ‘look’ or style in an artist’s work?
There are two ways I keep colours strong (high chroma). The first is by restricting the number of colours in the paint mixes. More than three in a mix and there is a definite reduction in chroma. If there are only three or four on the palette to start with, its impossible to accidentally or unintentionally introduce a range of weak colours into a painting.
The sky in this painting is delicate and soft. The blending brushwork contributed to this but also, the colours were mixed on the palette and the four colours were used in the mixes. The same four colours were used in the lower ground part of the landscape. The colours in this part were mixes of mostly two colours. The brush strokes were short dabs of colour not blended together on the canvas as in the sky. The result was strong rich colour, the sort I’m comfortable with.
There is one little issue which can complicate this arrangement. Some colours are extremely strong and one such colour, Alizarin Crimson in this case, in a limited palette can be problematic. A fellow blogger, John Clinock (art rat cafe) asked what I mean by ‘Alizarin Crimson is hard to control’ and this painting is a good example of what I mean.
In the sky, the tiniest quantities of crimson were added to the mixes. Regardless of this, there is a definite crimson tinge throughout the sky. This was OK in the sky. To maintain harmony throughout the painting it was necessary to have the same crimson in the lower part of the painting. Adding it to two colour mixes would have produced a range of crimson shades, an unnatural range for a winter stubble field. By initially having a solvent wash of crimson and placing colours on top without completely covering the crimson I got my stubble colours with a hint of crimson between the brush strokes.
Crimson ran riot in the sky but was restricted in the lower area of the painting. The process revolved around the intense tinting power of Alizarin Crimson. Viridian Green would have to be treated in the same way to avoid the green haze seen so often when this colour is used.
Have a look at the video and hopefully the process will be a little clearer.